August 31 at Auburn, Win 7-4
The Spikes scored early and often last Saturday, as they cruised to a 7-4 victory over the Doubledays. Michael Schulze continued his torrid pace with a 4-for-5 performance which included two RBI singles. Steven Ramos went 3-for-5, while Jimmy Bosco and Ronald Castillo both went 2-for-5.
Kevin Herget took the hill for State College and went six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits while striking out seven. Chase Brookshire pitched two solid innings of relief, but two infield errors in the eighth cost the Spikes two unearned runs late. Mitch Harris allowed a hit in the ninth, but collected the save without much trouble.
September 1 at Auburn, Loss 10-0
Auburn came back with vengeance Sunday, and roughed up Spikes' starter Juan Bautista for six runs, five earned, in 6 1/3 innings of work. Bautista allowed eight hits, including a three run bomb in the fourth. Reliever Michael Aldrete had an outing to forget. Aldrete, who entered the game in the seventh with one out and two runners on, forced a fly out for the second out of the frame before walking Bryan Lippincot to load the bases for Matt Foat, who took Aldrete yard for a grand slam, making it an 8-0 ballgame.
The State College offense managed just three hits on the night, and never threatened.
September 2 at Jamestown, Win 6-4 F/11
These Pinckney Division foes traded punches on Monday. After the Jammers had a 2-0 through four, the Spikes came back and held a 4-2 lead through seven, but two more Jamestown runs in the eighth sent this game to extras.
The Spikes got off to a slow start in the 11th when a fly out, a single and a Luke Voit fielders' choice left them with just a man on first and two outs, but that's when the wheels fell off for Jamestown reliever Axel Diaz. Diaz plunked David Washington, then threw a wild pitch, allowing Luis Perez (pinch-runner for Voit) and Washington to advance, then walked Carson Kelly.
With the bags full of Spikes, Diaz walked Mason Katz, scoring Perez, then walked Bosco to give State College a 6-4 lead, and ultimately the game.
September 3 at Jamestown, Win 3-1
After having the win handed to them Monday, the Spikes earned it Tuesday night with a two run single from Voit in the eighth to give State College their final 3-1 advantage.
The Spikes received three solid pitching performances as the trio of Andrew Pierce, Chase Brookshire and Kyle Webb held the Jammers to one run on just four hits. Pierce worked four innings of one hit ball, while Brookshire gave up one run on two hits in three innings, before Webb earned the save, locking down the final two innings allowing just one hit.
September 4 at Jamestown, Loss 9-4
State College fell behind early in its season finale. Willy Paulino struggled out of the gate Wednesday, allowing four runs, three earned, on three hits and four walks. The Spikes added two runs in the fourth on an RBI double from Voit, and RBI single from Schulze.
State College added two more in the eighth, but not before the Jammers knocked in four off Aldrete in the sixth, and one against Jeff Rauh in the eighth.
Semifinals Game 1: September 6 at Jamestown, 6-5
Jamestown carried its momentum from Wednesday's game straight into the playoffs Friday. The Jammers got to Nick Petree in the first with a three run dinger from Austin Meadows. Petree gave up three more runs over the next two innings before Herget and Johnny Polanco shut out the Jammers in their combined five innings of relief.
The Spikes bats finally awakened in the sixth. Ramos led off the inning with a double before Cesar Valera and Luke Voit both struck out swinging, but five straight Spikes reached. Katz provided the biggest bang of the inning with a three-run double, and Bosco capped the inning with an RBI double of his own.
Down 1-0 in the series, the Spikes return to State College with their backs against the wall as they must win Saturday and Sunday to advance to the NYPL Championship Series.
At the Plate
Michael Schulze is continuing to swing a hot bat. Schulze, who spent most of the season as a sparsely used utility man, has forced his way into Oliver Marmol's playoff lineup as a DH. The Missouri native is batting .500 over his last ten games with seven RBI. Expect to see left-handed hitting Schulze in the lineup when facing right-handed starters in the playoffs, but all bets are off with a southpaw on the hill.
Luke Voit is swinging a hot bat at the right time as well. Voit has had his struggles this year, but has picked up the pace down the stretch. In his last 10 games, he is hitting just under .300, nearly 50 points above his season average. The 6-foot-3 catcher is 4-for-8 in State College's last two games against Jamestown and is likely going to be starting Saturday night in game two, as well as game three if needed.
Carson Kelly, who had a stellar second half, has cooled off over the last week and is hitting a mere .158 over his last ten. The 2012 second-round pick got out of the gates slowly this year, but raised his average nearly 50 points over the second half. But, Kelly is batting worse now than he was at the beginning of the season. I doubt Kelly's spot in the lineup is in jeopardy, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Schulze pinch hit for him late in ballgames if Schulze isn't starting.
On the Mound
Kevin Herget has won his last two starts, and has come on strong in August. The Kean University product allowed just two runs over six innings in his last start, on his way to striking seven, a season high. Herget likely will not get a chance to start in the playoffs, but he is a viable option to go multiple innings out of the pen if necessary.
Nick Petree had his worst outing of the season in Friday night's playoff loss to Jamestown. Petree was rock solid throughout the regular season, and State College's most consistent starter by far, but the 2013 ninth round pick was knocked around for six runs on nine hits in just three innings of work. Petree is likely done for this round, but I fully expect Marmol to go right back to him if State College advances.
Jimmy Reed is slated to start game two for State College Saturday and will need to improve upon his last start. Reed went 4 2/3 innings against Jamestown on August 30th, and allowed four runs, just one earned, giving up eight hits.
Bullpen - The good news for State College, despite their game one loss, is that Jacob Booden, Victor DeLeon and Mitch Harris, the Spikes most reliable relievers, will all be available Saturday night.
9/3 – LHP Ben O'Shea placed on 7-day DL, retroactive to August 29;
INF Brett Wiley placed on Temporarily Inactive List, retroactive to September 1;
INF Kenny Peoples-Walls and OF Vaughn Bryan received from Johnson City
On the Horizon
State College has its back against the wall after losing game one of the NYPL Semifinals to the Jammers in Jamestown. The Spikes return home for game two, and three if needed, as they need to win both to advance to the Championship Series.
Follow Robert Davidson on Twitter at @robo_tweets, and on Flickr at flickr.com/photos/robert_davidson.
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